Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is aware that the significant delays on State Highway 2 (SH2) between Ōmokoroa and Bethlehem are causing frustration.
Both Tauranga City Council and Waka Kotahi issued advisories last week letting road users know peak time congestion issues on this stretch of SH2 are set to continue for some time yet. There are planned works underway in the area, and to minimise disruption both lanes are open during the day with a 50km/h speed in place, and the Waka Kotahi repair work is being done at night. (More detail below.)
“SH2 is an incredibly sensitive piece of road and any work near or on this road is seeing changes in traffic flow,” says Rob Campbell, Regional Manager of Maintenance and Operations for Waka Kotahi.
“The pressure on this road has been felt for some time. From what was once a rural road passing through a few settlements, it has developed into a busy commuter and freight route.
“The main cause of the current congestion appears to be the sheer volume of traffic putting pressure on the network. There has been increase of more than 6000 vehicles per day added to this corridor in the last 10 years.
“Another contributing factor is an apparent shift in commuter habits. Our traffic data analytics show that people are staggering the time they travel on SH2 so we’re seeing a shift in peak travel, which used to be 6am-9am, is now more like 6am - 10-10.30am,” Mr Campbell says.
In addition, the kiwifruit season is underway and some alternative routes are closed concentrating congestion on the highway.
“We appreciate any delay to travel is causing frustration and thank people for their patience.”
Work underway between Wairoa Bridge and Bethlehem:
The work underway since Sunday 14 May is part of the Waka Kotahi annual maintenance programme. It’s a major rehabilitation of State Highway 2.
The work is being completed at night and includes completely rebuilding and asphalting the road surface between the Wairoa Bridge and the Bethlehem roundabout.
The planned road closure tomorrow night (18th May) has now been cancelled due to weather warnings in place for the Bay of Plenty.
The remaining night-time road closures are:
Wednesday 24th May (existing)
Sunday 28th May (new)
Light vehicles will be detoured via Wairoa Road, Crawford Road and Poripori Road, through to State Highway 29. Heavy vehicles will be stacked either side of the bridge and piloted through at set intervals.
Between the nights of the closures, up to and including Thursday 1 June, night works will continue between the Wairoa Bridge and Bethlehem under Stop/Go traffic management.